Written By: Kim Paltz, Foster School student who studied abroad at the University of Mannheim in Germany
Well I finally did it. I braved it out and went on a solo trip. It was definitely nerve-wracking at first because it can be difficult figuring out the system of a new town all by yourself. But I managed to find the shuttle and then the metro which took me to my hostel on the first night.
The rest of the weekend I literally jammed pack as much sightseeing as I could possibly fit in two and a half days. My first day started out at Il Duomo which was crowded with tourists. But squeezing through I got to see all the beautiful stained glass and tracery inside the cathedral before heading over to the museum to see a few more church artifacts. At this point it was already lunch time so I grabbed a Milano panini (lettuce, tomato, mozzarella, and fried chicken) to go so that I could pack in a few more sights.
Later in the afternoon, I met up with one of my friends from UW whose actually studying in Milan. She took me to this amazing gelato place where they put warm melted chocolate in the bottom of your cone, pack in some ice cream, and then top it off with meringue. It was so delicious that I was very tempted to return again before I left. My friend also showed me this spot in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II where there’s this belief that if you spin around three times in this one spot it brings you good luck. So I got to look like a fool and spin around in the middle of the mall. But it must be bringing some luck because there is literally a sunken hole in the ground from all the people spinning there.
Next we went to the Navigli District which is this area located near the major canals of Milan. It was so beautiful just walking around and taking in the atmosphere but was even more phenomenal when I went at sunset the next day.
Later that night I had the chance to go to the Milan Expo. I chose only to go at night because the tickets were only five euros compared to the 40 euro price for the day. But after entering the expo, I could see why people go for the day. There is literally a stand for almost every country and they aren’t just small stands. Each country seem to have an extravagant building where you could learn about the culture and food (it was an expo on food) of each country. Besides the number of exhibits, many of the countries would have lines where the waiting time was around 40 minutes, which I pretty much had to skip because I only had four hours. Through my time there though I managed to explore around 30 countries and tried a Polish sausage, an Estonian granita, and got a free sample of Lindt chocolate.
That pretty much wrapped up my first day. The next day was jammed pack full as well. I started by going to Castello Sforzesco which was once home to the wealthy lord of Milan, Francesco Sforza. I was so glad I got there early too because the lines really began to pick up around 10. It was definitely quite the experience. For only three euros, I got to see all the museums of the castle and one of Michelangelo’s pietas. Behind the castle, I spent more time in Parco Sempione which seems to have an endless amount of trails. So I grabbed a caprese foccacia and just walked around, enjoying the sunny day.
For the afternoon, I spent a lot of time walking around. I thought while I’m here might as well see the city instead of the dark tunnels of the metro. I may have gotten lost a couple times but I definitely saw some beautiful streets tucked away from all the bustle of the crowds. My first stop on the way was Santa Maria Della Grazie which is home of Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper. When I got there I walked into the museum center and asked if I could get tickets. Apparently, they were sold out until next Sunday! At this point, I thought this was the only way to see the Last Supper so I walked off sulking only to end up stumbling upon this cloister where they had a gap in the wall peering in at the Last Supper. I was almost in disbelief that I found it. It’s definitely not as big as I expected. The remainder of the afternoon was spent hopping from church to church taking in all the architecture. I swear I was determined to see them all. I finished off back in the Navigli District where I saw the sun set over the canal.
My last day I spent the morning exploring different gardens. I especially enjoyed the Giardino Pubblici Indro Montanelli. I really wish I could’ve run there because of all the trails. After getting my fair share of gardens, I headed back to the Duomo for mass. There turned out to be a massive line and I ended up having to wait 10 minutes just to get in for mass. Then afterwards, I grabbed a delicious prosciutto pizza before heading back to the airport for my return to Germany.
I’ve heard many of times that Milan is very industrial and it’s almost a waste time to visit. But I think paired with the different festivities and the historical architecture of Southern Milan, I don’t think I could ever regret my second visit to Italy.